Puerto Natales and the surrounding area are full of tourist attractions. It’s fun to walk through the streets of Puerto Natales to see the colorful houses.
It is best to explore the town on foot to take the time to enjoy the scenery. The buildings are very pretty and picturesque. The main plaza is a good place to go to rest and relax a while. The church is nice too. For a long walk overlooking the Señoret Channel, head down to the waterfront. Wear a warm jacket, because it is usually windy. It is a rather quiet place where the main thing is to enjoy walking and the views.
- A 5 km walk along the waterfront to the north will take you to Puerto Bories, with its perfectly preserved century old cold storage plant and houses for workers. Take a journey to the past, to the era of the "Sociedad Explotadora de Magallanes", owned by Don José Menendez.
- There are shops with traditional articles from the area, as well as a museum of city history. The Ether Aike craft village was opened on May 20, 2002 and is located on Phillipi Street at the corner of Angamos. Here you can find handicrafts made by local craftspeople.
- Salesiano Alberto de Agostini Museum, (address: Padre Rossa Nº 1456). This museum belongs to the Salesian Schools of Puerto Natales. It contains an interesting display of Patagonian flora and fauna.
- From Puerto Natales you can take a trip to the Cueva del Milodon (Mylodon Cave), where the remains of a prehistoric giant sloth were found, or you can sail through the Patagonian channels towards the glaciers in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park.
- Avenida de los cuatro pueblos (Avenue of the Four Peoples): the sidewalks of this avenue have been decorated with images depicting the Native Peoples of Patagonia: Tehuelches (Aonikenk), Onas (Selknam), Yaganes (Yamanas), and Alacalufes (Kawaskar). From here there is a panoramic view of the town.
- Visit the Torres del Paine National Park which is an hour away.· In winter, you can go to the Río Turbio ski slopes, or by boat to the Balmaceda and Serrano mountain glaciers and to the seven glaciers located in the Mountain Channels.
Where to eat in Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales has several good restaurants for pizza, meat and hamburgers.
Massai: serves pizzas and sandwiches. It is cozy and not very expensive (around 6,000 pesos per person). The pizzas are fantastic and the sandwiches are huge, especially the Massai.
La Mesita Grande: pizza restaurant which is always full of foreign tourists. The nice thing about this place is its design; it has a big table where everyone sits down to eat. It is a good place to make friends with other tourists. The pizzas are delicious and large. Cost per person: around 7,000 pesos for an individual pizza and a drink.
La picá Don Carlos: restaurant well known for its huge dishes. If you want to eat well and are not put off by the informal surroundings, this is the spot to go. Don’t order anything fancy; the simpler the better. The dishes are inexpensive.
Where to stay in Puerto Natales
Pedro Montt 262, Puerto Natales, Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, Chile
Tel.: (56-61) 412000
Austral Glacier Hostel
Baquedano 695, Puerto Natales, Patagonia, Chile
Tel.: (56-61) 411 983
Blanco Encalada Nº 353, Puerto Natales
Tel.: (56 – 61) 613 875 / 613 874
Climate in Puerto Natales
In Puerto Natales the maximum temperature reaches 20° C in the summer and drops to 0° C in winter. The wind chill factor makes the temperature feel 6 to 7 degrees cooler.
How to get to Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales is 247 kilometers from Punta Arenas, and the gateway to the Torres del Paine and Bernardo O’Higgins National Parks. The city lies 2,373 km to the south of Santiago.
By sea to Puerto Natales:
Navimag Ferries sail from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales and vice versa, making this the best way to reach or leave Torres del Paine National Park, accompanied by the spectacular scenery of Chilean Patagonia.
By air to Puerto Natales:
Arrival by air is generally to the airport in Punta Arenas from where there is a road connection to Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales does have a small airport of its own. We suggest you enquire about flights from Santiago, Puerto Montt, or Punta Arenas.
By land to Puerto Natales:
By road it is a 247 km journey northwards from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales along Route 9. There are four regular bus lines that travel from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales. Another alternative is to cross over from Argentina.
Natales Gourmet - Dining in Patagonia
When I first saw Puerto Natales, Chile more than three decades ago, it was primarily a wool-industry service center, and a stopover for backpackers headed to Torres del Paine – and, at that time, few people even thought about a Patagonia travel vacation. Accommodations were mostly basic, and the supplies themselves limited – the plainest groceries. You usually had to overnight and, if you found a restaurant, the standard would be grilled lamb or mutton, plus the occasional fried fish. The 1982 edition of The South American Handbook (the only guidebook then available) mentions no restaurants at all, though a handful of hotels and other accommodations offered food.
The Handbook’s editors would hardly recognize today’s Natales, which teems with hotels, outdoor gear franchises, hostels in Chile – and plenty of fine restaurants. Recently, one week in town, I chose a different and distinctive option every evening, and here are three of my favorites.
What is Afrigonia? Improbably, figuratively and literally, it’s a gastronomic marriage between Zambia and Chile, in the persons of chef Kamal Nawaz and his wife Nathalie Reffer. Yesterday’s mutton has become tender lamb on a skewer, with a side of saffron rice, and the seafood masala (shrimp and scallop curry) adds an unaccustomed spice to the local scene. Afrigonia’s prices may be on the high side but, after trekking around Torres del Paine, you deserve something unique and special.
A more recent appearance, Santolla is a seafood restaurant – part of the adjacent IF Patagonia Hotel – whose design indulges contemporary container chic. The bar and dining rooms consist of three ground-level containers, joined together, with the kitchen perched above them. From the outside it looks utilitarian, but the interior is cozy (even rustic) and king crab – it takes its name from the Latin term for Spanish-language centolla – is the specialty here.
Afrigonia and Santolla are both upscale options, but Mesita Grande appeals to the backpacker in me with its thin-crusted pizzas, all served at two long communal tables. My twenty-something daughter called it the best pizza ever, but I also like Mesita’s pastas, particularly the ñoquis (gnocchi), and exceptional ice cream. If it’s not the best restaurant in Natales, it may be the best value – and that’s saying a lot in a town whose dining options continue to improve. Given its success here, Mesita has also opened a branch in the provincial capital of Punta Arenas.